Tangential Musings (scroll down for outfits):
This time last year I was on the verge of leaving academia. After three years on the ridiculously gruelling academic job market, after multiple campus visits each of which required weeks of preparation, after months spent imagining myself taking up a variety of positions for which I’d interviewed only to be told “We liked all three candidates, but the one we chose was just a better fit for the department,” or “Could you wait another month while we negotiate with our first choice, just in case we need to default to you?” (they NEVER defaulted to me), or “The Committee went another way” (I later learned that last one was code in two separate instances for “we lost our funding and will therefore not be hiring anyone”), I was done. I’d decided that if I didn’t get this last job, I could NOT spend another year waiting for others to decide the shape and direction of my life. I was also dangerously disillusioned with academia and daydreaming of starting all over again with something entirely different.
This time last year I was waiting for one last hiring committee to reach a verdict. Time moved slowly as it always does in the academy, and I cried almost every day. Then my former supervisor phoned to say she’d been contacted for a reference and soon after, my fate was decided. Academia and I were going to stay together.
This year’s recovery from the autumn and winter teaching terms is not as dramatic as last year’s. I felt the need to remind myself of this simple, but important fact. Thanks, StyleNation, for tuning in.
I also feel the need to offer the following to those of you who are still looking for academic jobs. Here is what I learned from this always challenging, sometimes invigorating, often frustrating, and occasionally heartbreaking experience:
1. Know yourself well enough to anticipate how you will deal with both success and failure in any given search. Prepare accordingly.
For example, I discovered that I need to work to believe that Plan A, the actual getting of the job, could really happen. But I always need a Plan B, Plan C, and even sometimes a Plan D in place so that I know how to deal if I don’t get the job. For me, success is easy to deal with but sometimes difficult to imagine. Failure is easier to imagine and to deal with if I can map out ways to make myself believe failure in one venue is an opportunity in another.
2. Apply for every job for which your credentials make you a real candidate. Put most of your energy into these applications. Then apply for ALL other jobs that might be a bit of a stretch for you. Who knows? Once you stretch, you might find it was exceptionally worthwhile to do so.
For example, I stretched and now work in a department that seems to fit me and my work much better than I would initially have imagined possible. In fact, I can no longer imagine myself doing the work I first thought I wanted to do.
3. Decide how long you can stand to be on the job market, waiting for others to decide your fate. Add at least one more year, if your budget, brain, and body can afford it. Then think about the next item:
4. Remember that life exists outside of academia and that you might be happy out there. You might even be HAPPIER out there. And despite the specialization inherent to your degree, your PhD has also given you many transferable skills.
5. Choose and prepare your interview attire early in the job market season. It sucks to shop for clothes when you should be prepping your research talk and practicing answers to questions.
Outfit post begins here:
I’m all typed out, so I’ll just note that this is what I wore for my last two days of contact with students this term. (E-Jo & are are doing an unintentional black-and-cream pattern theme week)
Bare legs for the first time in 2011. Also, this is the last almost-picture of my too-light-for-this-time-of-year hair colour. This issue has now been remedied and I will report on same later: